Dutch-Turk tensions rise after ‘Nazi’ jibe
Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu with former secretary of state John Kerry in Washington last year.
Turkish ministers have been prevented from speaking in Rotterdam in a row over Ankara’s political campaigning among emigres ahead of its April 16 referendum, leading Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to call the country a “Nazi remnant”.
On Saturday, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was scheduled to attend a rally in Rotterdam but the Dutch authorities withdrew landing permission for his plane.
Turkey’s family minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya was prevented by police from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. Hundreds of protesters waved Turkish flags outside, demanding to see the minister.
The police used dogs and water cannon on Sunday to disperse the crowd, which threw bottles and stones. Several protesters were beaten by officers with batons, a witness claimed. Horseback charges were conducted and officers used shields and armoured vans. Cavusoglu was prevented from flying to Rotterdam on Saturday and the families minister tweeted that she was being escorted back to Germany.
“The world must take a stance in the name of democracy against this fascist act! This behaviour against a female minister can never be accepted,” she said.
Rotterdam’s mayor confirmed that she had been taken to the German border.
She tweeted: “We’re not allowed to enter into our consulate which is part of our homeland. Is this really the heart of Europe, the cradle of civilisation?”
Addressing a rally in Istanbul on Saturday, Erdogan said of the Netherlands: “They do not know politics or international diplomacy.
“You can stop our foreign minister’s plane all you want, let’s see how your planes will come to Turkey from now on.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who stands to lose heavily to the anti-Muslim Geert Wilders in the March 15 election, said the visits were undesirable and he “could not cooperate in the public political campaigning of Turkish ministers in the Netherlands”.
The government said it saw the potential to import divisions into its sizeable Turkish minority, which had an anti-Erdogan contingent. Dutch politicians from several parties voiced support for Rutte’s ban on the visits.
Turkey sealed off the Netherlands’ embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul in apparent retaliation, while hundreds protested outside.
The Turkish government is asking overseas Turks, principally in Germany and the Netherlands, to vote “yes” in the April 16 referendum that would give Erdogan sweeping new powers.
Rutte said: “This morning on TV [the Turkish minister] made clear he was threatening the Netherlands with sanctions and we can never negotiate with the Turks under such threats. So we decided … in a conference call it was better for him not to come.”
Picture credit: Wikimedia